Brain scans, imaging study might help detect autism in kids less than one year old

Fourth Estate Staff

Philadelphia, PA, United States (4E) – Imaging study and brain scans might help parents know if their child has signs of autism as this new method could determine the signs as early as six months sans behavioral signs exhibited by the child at an older age.

A new study suggested for the first time the possibility of diagnosing the likely development of autism on a child before their behavioral systems would appear around three or four years old. The research was published this week on the journal called Nature and it was reported that the findings were based on a small population of infants.

The doctors who worked on the research said although they found new ways to detect the symptoms at the earlies time possible, they are still unsure how they could use the early warning to prevent or lessen the development of autism. Robert T. Schultz, the director of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s center for Autism Research, said, “The ability to accurately predict who will develop autism opens up tremendous new opportunities to develop effective therapies starting in the first year of life.” Dr. Schultz continued to say being able to identify the signs would let parents have their children undergo the needed intervention before the autism fully emerges.

The babies that were part of the research were picked based on their siblings. The infants had siblings already diagnosed within the autism spectrum and doctors said these babies have one in five chance of also developing the disorder. The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to measure the brains of the babies, who are respectively six months old, one year old, and two years old. The regions, the surface area, and the thickness of the brains were examined.

As per the information gathered, the infants were predicted to develop autism by the age of two. The surface area of the brains of babies who later developed autism grew much faster and larger than babies who did not have behavioral signs of autism. The rapid growth pattern was also discovered to have originated from the cerebral cortex.

The lead author of the study, Joseph Piven of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said there was no way to detect the biomarkers of autism and now their study is promising as it is possible to know more about autism at an even earlier age.

One in 68 children develop autism. Autism is a developmental disorder that mostly affects social interactions and verbal communication

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